BRIDGEWATER, Va. – Nationally known riding coach Sarah Irvine – under whose tutelage the Bridgewater College riding program became one of the most respected and competitive in the region – announced today that she will retire at the conclusion of the 2010-11 school year.
“Sarah Irvine has few equals as both a rider and a coach, and Bridgewater College considers itself fortunate to have been able to draw upon her talents for the last 11 years,” said BC President George Cornelius. “Under Sarah’s leadership, the program has steadily grown and prospered, and we are indebted to her for her hard work and professionalism in making that a reality.”
Irvine was the intercollegiate riding coach for Bridgewater’s first team that competed during the 2000-2001 season. During that first season, the Eagles had their first rider, Cary Chenoweth, qualify for the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association national show. The next year, Chenoweth won the national title in the Intermediate Over Fences division.
Irvine has coached 20 All-ODAC performers including a pair of ODAC Rider of the Year winners – Patti Ann Thornton in 2009 and Lindsay Clark in 2007. She has also coached 10 national show qualifiers while at Bridgewater.
Under Irvine’s coaching, the Eagles won a pair of ODAC championships in 2007 and 2009 and finished second at the conference show four times. Bridgewater won the regional title in 2006 and finished second in 2004, 2007 and 2008. The current team is in second place in the regional standing following the completion of the fall season.
“The opportunity to work with our students has been personally very rewarding to me,” Irvine said. “I will look back on my years here as some of the best years. I consider it a privilege to have been a part of this wonderful program, and am very proud of what we have established. I am confident it is on a firm footing, and I believe its brightest days are ahead.”
In 2007, Bridgewater College purchased the farm housing the riding program, renaming the facility the Bridgewater College Equestrian Center, with Irvine assuming the director of riding position in addition to continuing her role as intercollegiate riding team head coach.
Irvine is a graduate of the University of Virginia and James Madison University. She has served as president and board member of the Southwest Virginia Hunter/Jumper Association (SWVHJA). Also, Irvine has been inducted into the SWVHJA Hall of Fame.
As a rider, Irvine was awarded the Martini Rossi Rider of the Year honor and has won classes at the Washington International, the Harrisburg National and Lake Placid Shows.
The college will conduct a national search to identify Irvine’s successor.
Bridgewater College is an independent, four-year liberal arts college located in the Central Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Founded in 1880, it was the state’s first private, coeducational senior college.